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A Lifetime With Depression and Anxiety, Before I Figured Out What 'It' Was


Scrolling through posts. Scrolling through Google. Looking for something. Something that says what I’m feeling is normal. Something that gives me a sigh of relief. It’s hard to find it. Hard to describe it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember when I was 5 or 6. My best friend’s house was next door. Not even 60 feet from my door to her door. I was terrified when it got too late. If the sun had set and I had to walk home in the dark my heart would race. I would shut down, become stuck. Unable to leave. My friend’s mom would watch me as I went home. My mom would greet me at my door. It was better. It didn’t stop the fear. It didn’t slow my heart. Reaching the door after a wind sprint it would be hard to catch my breath. I don’t know if it was running or if I was running from it. I would feel as if I was being chased. In reality, I was chased by it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember the night before school started. I would pack and repack my backpack. I would set my clothes out and climb into bed. Sleep was hard to come by. Sleep was wrought with a nightmare. It didn’t matter what grade because it happened almost every year. The dream was simple: I would go to my first day in my new class. Only I wasn’t smart enough for it. It was as if I was never going to be good enough. I was sent back to preschool, stuck learning the ABC’s. It made me feel as if I was never going to be ready for school. In reality, I wasn’t ready for it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember sitting in a booth at a restaurant. My family surrounding me. They urged me to decide what I wanted to eat. I could tell them, but froze when the waiter came. I would fall silent in fear around new people. My parents had to force me to order my own food. To tell the waiter what I wanted. I was still frozen. A barely audible voice would exit from an unknown person. In reality, I didn’t know it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember in third grade. We had a spelling test every week. I would spend hours studying for it. I had this nagging feeling in me going into a Friday spelling test. I would start to put myself down. I felt I didn’t study enough. I felt I wouldn’t be good enough to pass it. If I didn’t make a 100 I was not going to be OK. So, I cheated. It made me feel as though I was in control of the outcome. I knew I deserved the 100, but I wouldn’t be able to achieve it. I would work myself up so much that I would forget how to spell my name. I would do anything to get out of the test. In reality, I would do anything not to feel it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember in sixth grade when I moved to the middle school. I wasn’t sure I would know anyone. I remember sitting in class afraid to talk to anyone. I saw someone I thought would be nice. I followed him around nearly all day. I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t even know his name. I was afraid of talking to him. I was afraid of being alone. In reality I was never alone, I had it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember in the summer my dad lost his job. We had to move to South Carolina from Kentucky. We packed up our entire house. There were people everywhere. There were people going through all my stuff. My pet crab was being moved. I didn’t have my space. I didn’t have my room. I was scared I was never going to home again. Couldn’t breathe with everything happening. I ended up yelling. I ended up crying. I ended up thinking. I felt afraid. In reality, I was afraid of it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember after the move nothing was the same. For the first time, I had no bed time. I had no routine. My life felt shattered. My once favorite holiday that included family was lost. I didn’t feel whole. My older sisters and niece were still in Kentucky. My dreams would take me home. I spent days crying. I got mad at everyone. I blamed my parents. It was like I was broken. In reality it was breaking me.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember in 10th grade wanting to help my friend. She told me she cut herself. I carried this with me for nearly a year. I told her I was going to tell someone. I didn’t want a dead friend. I was afraid that if she kept doing it, she would slip. She would kill herself. I told her mom. She denied it all. It ended in a yelling match, names being flung. I ended up walking home in the middle of the night crying, face tingling. I wanted to help her. In reality, I needed help from it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember trying to fight to get the grade I deserve. The teacher humiliated me in front of everyone. I ran out of class crying. Unable to breathe. Unable to stop. I ran to the school psychologist. She calmed me down. I went back to class and she tried to write me up. I got worse. I refused it. I ran to the therapist again. I got suspended for three days. I dropped out of school. (I ended up going back to school, and graduating on time.) I felt like I lost. In reality, I was losing the battle with it.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember. My first car crash into another car. I remember sitting on the side of the road crying. I couldn’t get my mind to shut off. I had to fight to get a car to be able to support myself through college. My dad said I would have to pay car insurance if it crashed. I couldn’t work if didn’t have a car. I couldn’t pay insurance if I had no job. I couldn’t afford to fix the car. I was going to end up having to drop out of college. Everything spun around. It wouldn’t stop. I was stuck. In reality, it was burying me.

What is it?

I remember it. I remember being lost. I felt so bad; too sick to get up from my bed and leave my dorm room. I started missing class. I started skipping meals. I felt guilty for skipping class, but all I wanted was to sleep. I couldn’t get up. I was shirking on my responsibilities. I didn’t even remember the last time I took a shower. Then an idea came. It was quiet at first. Suddenly it was the only thing there. The idea was simple — sleep forever. Never have to wake up late or forget to write that paper again. Never upset my family or friends again. It sounded peaceful. In reality, it had driven me to a cliff.

What is it?

I can remember it so clearly. I don’t remember the last time my hands weren’t sweaty. I don’t remember the last time it was easy to fall asleep. I don’t remember what it’s like to be happy. I don’t remember what I like to do. I don’t remember what it’s like to be honest when someone asks how I feel. In reality, I don’t know life without it.

What is it?

I remember. I remember how bad it was the last couple months. I remember my 4-year-old brother coming to the hospital and saying, “I thought you were going to die.” I remember my mom’s hugs feel so warm and comforting. I remember it is going to be OK, even if I don’t feel it. I remember my family is here for me. In reality, it is something.

What is it?

It is generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. It has controlled my whole life. It may never end. It makes me feel horrible some days. It will get better. It has medication that helps. It has therapy that helps. It is no longer me. I am no longer it. I refuse to blame my life on it. It makes me feel alone when I’m surrounded by love. In reality, I have to live with it

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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